I Have Nothing Left to Contribute to “The Slant”: Thank God I Have Tenure
By: Estelle Shaya
Despite hounding half a dozen staff members to write a single article last semester, I have a confession to make: I have not published an article for The Slant since last spring. It’s not for lack of trying—I could point to my desktop folder filled with half-assed jokes about dating a BYX guy for an Immersion project or swearing to never drink again after seeing my cousins at New Year’s Eve and realizing that was me five years ago. However, the fact remains, I’ve burnt out. I’m neither funny nor smart enough to find the satire in Vanderbilt limiting student donations to Swipes for a Cause because it was doing too much good, or any other piece of ridiculous campus news.
Luckily, despite entirely giving up on any talent in writing I might have once had, this article is not one of resignation. I would call it a loophole if nearly every other member of staff hadn’t discovered it before me. Tenure. Having already made an incalculably valuable contribution to The Slant of five articles (give or take three), I can comfortably go into an early retirement in which I retain my board position and non-existent salary and benefits.
Slant tenure is less of a by-laws thing, and more of a court-of-public-opinion, “Come on I love that guy you can’t kick him out!” institution. Its presence is fundamental to our organization’s history: in our founding year of 1886, 10 of 12 staff members had already achieved tenure and thus opted not to write. All articles from those early years were authored by men named Garret, desperate to prove themselves deserving of tenure but unable due to an unfortunate naming decision by their parents. The tradition of early tenure and then not doing any work has stuck around on our staff through to today: how else could a staff of 31 publish only 15 articles in an entire semester?
Unlike other prestigious organizations, The Slant neither requires its tenure-track candidates to submit a large body of work for publication nor to even attend the majority of its staff meetings. Instead, The Slant has a long history of offering tenured positions to just about anyone who sticks around long enough to write a single article. There are even some not-so-rare cases of members who, upon enduring a rigorous and lengthy selection process, are welcomed with immediate tenure to the staff and choose to never write a line of satire again.
What would it take to actually get me fired? I like to think our staff would draw the line at arson, but honestly, I’m a junior, they aren’t going to fire someone this close to graduating. Crimes against humanity could be a plausible excuse to discreetly remove me from my position, but I could probably still demand a hefty sum in severance pay.
This article would be a farewell to you, dear reader, if I’d actually published enough articles for you to know who I am. I plan to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labor: the smug satisfaction of getting to claim I write for the funniest paper on campus despite my last writing credit being for correcting the use of “their” to “they’re” in someone else’s article two months ago. As for my fellow staff members, hey, maybe you’ll see me at a meeting or two, but I’m definitely capping it at three for the semester. Let me know if you get any new freshman recruits and I will happily stop by to regale them with stories of my glory days in 2019.
Perhaps a year from now, something obvious enough for me to satirize will happen and the muses will strike again. Vanderbilt might pledge to reach net-zero emissions while refusing to divest from fossil fuels. Or maybe Diermeier will wear a funny hat. Who knows? Until then, all I can guarantee is I’ll still be on staff.